Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wisdom from a Banana Leaf

Sometime on September 2012, together with 10 community leaders we stayed in Malaybalay for few days to attend to some engagements with our government partners.

SOLED KI was invited by the Department of Agriculture, NOMIARC and the partners from the province to join the Farmers Field Day. It was a gathering of different farmers around the region, including the indigenous peoples to learn new agricultural technology. For the leaders of SOLED KI, they took it as a venue to engage potential partners with the hope of building collaborations with them.

Every night is a time for serious discussion on anything that concerns the indigenous peoples. Concerns on livelihood, land tenure, food security, education, health, environment and "klaymet sins"; But one thing that caused them the most serious concern: the banana leaf.

Matigsalug leaders share a meal over a banana leaf. The person who prepares the food equally divided the rice and the viand to assure that each one has good share. After the meal, nothing is left wasted but the used leaf.

During meal time, as our boarding house lacks enough utensils, the most logical way to share our meals together was to look for a banana leaf, the most reliable and easily available.

After few meals together, one of the leaders complained that we almost finished up all the good leaves and they fear that the owner will reprimand us for taking the good leaves. Thus, the next meal would mean pushing one another who will take the banana leaves as everyone fears of being reprimanded.

Then one of the leaders calmly said, "Now i realize how hard it is to live in the city. Its giving us a hard time just to look for banana leaves. Had it been in the mountains, we can have as much banana leaves we need without fear of getting reprimanded by the owners. I can't imagine that only a banana leaf can give us very serious problem".

And everyone burst out in laughter.

Yet after the laughter and the horsing around subsided, we realized that yes, it was a serious remark that left us with something to ponder.

A single banana leaf, giving a serious problem to the indigenous leaders.

Looking deeper, yes a single banana leaf can explain concerns on livelihood, agriculture, health, education, environment and climate change, and obviously, food security.

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